5.37 seconds, 8 seconds, 50 seconds.
You could sum up Taylor Phinney’s 2012 season with those three numbers. The difference between a World Championship gold and settle-for-less silver, between Olympic podium and wandering just off stage wondering what if.
Phinney missed beating Tony Martin of Germany by 5.37 seconds on the 45.7K course in Valkenburg. Martin almost died on the final 1200 meters up the Cauberg but not enough to lose. Phinney closed the gap slightly on the 5.8% gradient not not quite enough. Count out five seconds and compare that with the months of training.
The Boulder, Colorado native was fourth in the Olympic Time Trial in London dominated by winner Bradley Wiggins. He finished 50 seconds off third, missing the exhilaration and satisfaction of earning a bronze medal.
The BMC star was also fourth in the Olympic Road race, taking the sprint behind Vino, Rigoberto Uran and Alexander Kristoff. The charging peloton was 8 seconds back and fourth had the same effect as 84th — no shiny, career defining medal.
Given those three almosts, it’s no surprise that Phinney is bummed. “Winning a world championships is career and life changing, so to be five seconds away from that is a pretty big disappointment,” he said. “I’m really happy with the silver medal but to be so close is somewhat painful.”
It’s the “so close” that will turn those disappointments into fresh motivation. Phinney is so talented that it’s easy to forget he’s only 22 years old. Time is on his side and soon that cumulative 63.37 seconds that he fell short will be a distant memory. When it comes to time trials, Phinney is only going to get faster and faster.
“It’s a big motivation booster for the winter and going into next year,” said Phinney. The rider some people call the next Cancellara is going to close the gap on almost. Disappointment is Phinney’s 2 minute man and very shortly, he’s going to blow past.